Cincinnati Bell – Monetizing Digital Platforms

Brian Suerring from Cincinnati Bell showcased Cincinnati Bell’s digital strategy.

Regional telecoms, like other “dinosaur” or “traditional” businesses are clearly struggling to embrace the new realities of the shift towards digital. Brian asked how many people had a landline and about 5 hands went up (of about 25 people in the room). He then asked how many people have used a phone book (like the giant one that is delivered to your door) in the past year and even fewer hands were raised. Clearly, the traditional business model of Cincinnati Bell is changing.

Monetizing Zoomtown – Why the heck do people keep it as their homepage?

Cincinnati Bell’s internet business is called zoomtown, and when you first sign up, it will automatically set as your homepage. Apparently, many people never change it (they have no idea why) and it gets about 10 million page views/month (the quality of these views is another discussion. Soooo…. Since people are going there, we should monetize it!!! Cincinnati Bell initially went with an outsourced model and made about a $0.25CMP. They switched to a hybrid insourced model and are now making between $1 and $17 CMP. Not sure how that compares to the increased costs and complexities of incourcing, but Brian seemed to think of it as a positive.

Advertising on Your Phone

Seriously. This is a real product that Cincinnati Bell currently has in Beta called xipto.

How does it work?

When someone calls your phone they listen to an audio ad before the call connects and the phone owner gets about $0.05 per ad listened to. So I call you… instead of ring, ring I get an ad “Company X has great widgets, you should really try them”. Then the call connects. You earned about $0.05 depending on the ad. You can select the advertisers on your phone, so you have complete control. You can also donate your balance to charity (they anticipate that an average person will make around $4 or $5 per month).

Results to date?

Brian said that his fiancé hates calling him and doesn’t want to listen to it, but apparently in the beta test with Cincinnati Bell staff about 10% of the people using it like it. In terms of advertisers, apparently they like that the impressions are measurable, but no research has been done on the quality of the impressions.

Coupons on Your Phone – CellFire

The other service that Cincinnati Bell is offering to help bolster their revenues with innovative advertising products is CellFire, a service that sends coupons directly to your mobile phone. With this service you’ll get the coupons directly on your phone and show them or have them scanned by the cashier when you pay. This application seems like a no-brainer, and can really create efficiencies in the coupon industry.

What do You Think?

Do you have zoomtown as your homepage? If so why? Would you try Xipto? What do you think about it as both a user or as an advertiser? How about CellFire? Would you prefer digital coupons?

Krista Neher


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